Jeff Knox Jr. strutted his stuff during his first year with the Roughriders, but in the start of his second, he’s had to take it a little slower.
Knox Jr. missed most of training camp with a nagging injury, which he tested out during Monday’s practice.
During Tuesday’s practice, he showed off some of his rookie season self, snagging an interception and taking back into the end zone.
“It’s a respect thing,” Knox Jr. said about what he wanted to show when he came back. “Amongst your peers, amongst your teammates, amongst your coaches, they want to see you out there, and once you’re out there you earn your respect on the field. I strongly believe that.”
Knox Jr. said while he did miss a lot of practice, he doesn’t feel like he’s behind.
“I wasn’t missing too much, I stayed in tune … in my playbook,” Knox Jr. said during his recovery time, but admitted it’s different when you get out on the field. “You can read things, but getting out there and doing it, and repping it – repetition is key.”
Knox Jr. is one of the few defensive holdouts for the Roughriders. When the team hired general manager and head coach Chris Jones in the off-season, most of the defence from the 2015 season was let go, except Knox Jr., the team’s 2015 most outstanding player.
Of course, he hopes to contribute in the same way this year. In 2015, he recorded a single season Rider record with 114 defensive tackles along with two fumble recoveries, two tackles for loss, one interception, one pass knockdown, and one blocked convert. Along with being the Riders MOP, he was the team’s most outstanding rookie and its most outstanding defensive player.
Knox Jr. said he now feels 100 per cent physically, and about 85 per cent mentally. Not bad considering the playbook is entirely new, just like the defence itself.
Still, Knox Jr. is excited about the chemistry the defence has found and the plays that Jones has them learning.
“I like it, it’s fast. We’re flying around, physical. That’s what we want to be, physical,” he said.
And while the playbook and the players are all new, Knox Jr. isn’t – and he’s ready to take on a leadership role with the team.
“I’m stepping up now,” he said. “So I got to give advice instead of take it. And you still listen to other guys, but (I’m) being more (of) a leader now.”
“It’s something I want to do.”